Athiests on a crusade
A new group of athiest has arisen in society. Called the new athiests, they are not content to keep their views to themselves. Rather, they are on a crusade, "actively, angrily, passionately trying to persuade the religious to their point of view", wrote columnist Richard Bernstein. Even Agnostics are in their sights, for these new athiests allow no room for doubt. To them, there is simply no God. End of story.
"The world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief" said Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg. "Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization". One tool aimed at weakeningthat hold is written word, which seems to be stiring up considerable interest, for some of the new athiests' books have become best sellers.
Religion has aided the cause of the new athiests, as people have become fed up with the religious extremism, terrorism, and conflict plaguing the world. "Religion poisons everything," says one leading atheist. More-over, that 'poison' is said to include religious beliefs in general, not just extremist views. Core dogmas, say the new athiests must be exposed, abandoned, and replaced by rationality and reason. People must be unafraid to speak frankly about the "mountains of life-destroying gibberish found in the Bible and the Koran, writes athiest Sam Harris. "We can no longer afford the luxury of... political correctness"
While the new athiests reproach religion, they revere science, some even claiming that it disproves the existence of God. But does it? In fact, can it? "In the fullness of time," says Harris, "one side is really going to win this argument, and one side is really going to lose."
Which side do you think time will vindicate? While considering the matter, ask yourself: 'Is belief in a Creator intrinsically harmful? Would universal atheism make for a better world? Let us consider what some respected scientists and philosophers have said about athiesm, religion, and science.
Has science done away with God?
For 50 years, British philosopherAntony Flew was highly respected as an atheist by his peers. "Theology and Falsification," his 1950 paper, "became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the (20th) century." in 1986 Flew was called "he most profound of the contemporary critics of theism."So it came as a great shock to many when , in 2004, Flew announced that he had changed his viewpoint.
What made Flew change his mind? In a word, science. He becamse convinced that the universe, the laws of nature, and life itself could not have arisen merely by chance. Is that a reasonable conclusion?
How did laws of nature arise?
Physicist and auther Paul Davies points out that science does a wonderful job of explaining physical phenomenasuch as rain. But he says: "When it comes to... questions such as 'why are there laws of nature?' the situation is less clear. These sorts of questions are not much affected by specific scientific discoveries: many of the really big questions have remained unchangedsince the birth of of civilization and still vex us today."
"The important point is not merely that there are regularities in nature," wrote Flew in '07, "but that these regularities are mathematically precise, universal and 'tied together.' Einstein spoke of them as 'reason incarnate.' The question we should ask is how nature came packagedin this fashion. This is certainlythe question that scientists from Newton to Einstein to Heisenberg have asked - and answered. Their answer was the mind of God."
Indeed, many highly respected scientists do not consider it unscientific to believe in an intelligent First Cause. On the other hand, to say that the universe, its laws, and life just happened is intellectually unsatisfying. Everyday experience tells us that design- especially highly sophisticated design-calls for a designer.
Which Faith Will You Choose?
Although the new atheists like to wave the banner of science over their camp, the fact is that neither atheism nor theism rest purely on science. Both involve faith-atheism in purposelessblind chance; theism in an Intelligent First Cause. The new atheists promote the notion that "all religious faith is blind faith," writes John lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, England. He adds: "We need to emphasize strongly that they are wrong." The questions, therefore, is this: Which faith stands up under test-that of the atheist or that of the religious believer? Consider, for example, the origin of life.
Evolutionists readily acknowledge that the origin of life remains a mystery-although there are many conflicting theories. a leading new atheist, Richard Dawkins, claims that by virtue of the vast number of planets that must exist in the universe, life was bound to appear somewhere. But many reputable are not so sure. Cambridge professor John Barrow says that the belief in "the evolutionof life and mind" hits "dead-ends at every stage. There are just so many ways in which life can fail to evolve in a complex and hostile environment that it would be sheer hubris to suppose that, simply given enough carbon and enough time, anything is possible."
Keep in mind, too, that life is not just an assortment of chemical elements. Rather, it is based on an extremely sophisticated form of information, which is encoded in DNA. Hence, when we talk about the origin of life, we are also talking about the origin of biological information. What is the only source of information that we know of? In a word, intelligence. Would chance accidents produce complex information, such as a computer program, an algebraic formula, an encyclopedia, or even a recipe for a cake? Of course not. Yet, when it comes to sophistication and efficiency, none of these even begin to compare with the information stored in the genetic code of living organisms.
Luck as the First Cause- Good Science?
According to atheists, "the universe is as it is, mysteriously and it just happens to permit life," explains Paul Davies. "Had it been different," say atheists, "we would not be here to argue about it. The universe may or may not have a deep underlyings unity, but there is no design, purpose, or point to it all- at least none that would make sense to us." "The advantage of this position," notes Davies, "is that it is easy to hold-easy to being a cop-out," that is, a convenient way to avoid facing the issue.
In his book Evolution: A Thoery in Crisis, molecular biologist Michael Denton concluded that the theory of evolution "is more like a principle of medieval astrology than a serious... scientific theory." He also referred to Darwinian evolution as one of the greatest myths of our time.
To be sure, the appeal to luck as the first cause does smack of myth. Imagine this: An archaeologist sees a rough stone that is more or less square. He may attribute that shape to chance, which would be reasonable. But later he find a stone that is perfectly formed in the shape of a human bust, down to the finest details. Does he attribute this item to chance? No. his logical mind says, 'someone made this.' Using similar reasoning, the Bible states: "Every house is constructed by someone, be he that constructed all things is God." (Heb 3:4) Do you agree with that statement?
"The more we get to know about our universe, " writes Lennox, "the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator God, who designed the universe for a purpose, gains in credibility as the best explanationof why we are here."
Regrettably, among the things that undermine the belief in God is evil perpetrated in his name. As a result, some have concluded that mankind would be better off without religion. What do you think?
A world without religion: an improvement?
The new atheists envison a world with no religion-no suicide bombers, no religious wars, and no televangelists fleecing their flocks. Does that vision appeal to you?
Before answering, ask yourself this, "Is there any evidence that universal atheism would lead to a better world?' Consider: As many as 1.5 million Cambodians died in the Khmer Rouge effort to establish a godless Marxist state. And in the officially atheistic USSR, Joseph Stalin's rule resulted in tens of millions of deaths. Granted, those evils cannot be directly attributed to atheism. But they do show that the rule of atheism does not ensure peace and harmony.
Few would Deny that religion has caused much suffering. But is God at fault? No! He is no more at fault than a car manufacturer would be for and accident caused by a driver using a cell phone. Mankind's suffering has many causes, one of which is more fundamental than beliefs. The Bible identifies it as inherent imperfection. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23) This sinful inclinationtends to foster selfishness, undue pride, a desire for moral independence, and violence. (Gen 8:21) It also causes people to rationalize and gravitate towards beliefs that excuse wrongdoing. (Rom 1:24-27) Jesus Christ rightly said: "Out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies." (Mat 15:19)
A vital distinction
At this point, a distinction must be made between true worship- that is, worship that is acceptable in God's eyes- and false worship. True worship would help people to fight against base inclinations. It would encourage self-sacrificing love, peace, kindness, goodness, mildness, self-control, marital loyalty and fidelity, and respect for others. (Gal 5:22, 23) False religion, on the other hand, would tend to cater to popular trends-'tickling people's ears,' as the Bible says-by condoning some of the bad things Jesus condemned.- (2 tim:4:3)
Might atheism contribute to the same moral ambiguity or confusion? 'No God' means no accountability to a divine authority, as well as "no objective values which we are obligated to respect," says law Professor Phillip Johnson. Morality thus becomes relative, with each person determining hos own standards.-if he chooses to have any. No doubt such thinking makes atheism an appealing philosophy for some people.- Psalms 14:1
The fact is, however, that God will not forever tolerate untruth-atheistic or religious-and those who promote it. He promises: "The (morally and spiritually) upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous , they will be torn away from it." (proverbs 2:21, 22) The result will be something that no human, no human philosophy, and no human institution could ever bring about- Universal Peace and happiness. (Isaiah11:9)
**God's view of religious atrocitities.
The land given to ancient Isreal was inhabited by Canaanites, a depraved people who practiced secual immorality- including incest, sodomy, and bestiality, as well as ritual child sacrifice. (Lev 18:2-27) The book Archaeology and the Old testament states that excavations "have uncovered piles of ashes and remains of infant skeletons in cemetariesaround heathen altars, pointing to a widespread practice of [child sacrifce]." The Canaanites would worship their gods through immoral indulgence and also sacrifice their firstborn to the same gods, says a Bible handbook. It adds: "Archaeologists who dig in the ruins of Canaanite cities wonder that God did not destroy them sooner than he did."
God's destruction of teh Canaanitesis a sober reminder for us today that he will not forever put up with evil perpetrated in his name. "[God] has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness." says Acts 17:11